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Kill A Watt Energy Monitors

Which appli­ances are such energy hogs that they need to be replaced? How much energy am I pay­ing for when plug in lamps and appli­ances are left on? Now there is an easy way to fig­ure these things out.

Start­ing in 2011, the Howard County Library Sys­tem (HCLS) have been lend­ing “Kill A Watt” mon­i­tor­ing devices. These were gen­er­ously donated to HCLS by the Sierra Club, Howard County Group. There are 11 devices avail­able for 3-week loan. If you have an HCLS card you will be able to bor­row or reserve Kill A Watts just as you would other library mate­ri­als. Search the library cat­a­log at hclibrary.org.

The Kill A Watt is easy to use. Basi­cally, you plug it into a stan­dard out­let and plug the elec­tric device into the Kill A Watt. The Kill A Watt indi­cates elec­tric­ity usage in watts, kilowatt-hours, costs, and other mea­sures. You can set it to record the energy use over a period of time.

Fight “Vam­pire Loads”

Many elec­tri­cal devices and appli­ances use energy even when you are not using them. This is called a “vam­pire load.” Any appli­ance that has a remote con­trol is actu­ally “on” even when it is “off.” Gam­ing con­soles, espe­cially older mod­els, are noto­ri­ous vampires.

Have Fun

The Kill A Watt is inter­est­ing and fun to use. It could make a great stu­dent sci­ence project (with adult super­vi­sion, of course) or class­room activity.

What Changes Can You Make After Using the Kill A Watt?

  • Change your habits. Does the cell phone charger always have to be plugged in, even when not charg­ing? Sim­ple changes like these can add up to real differences.
  • Use power strips so that you can eas­ily shut off all power to a “fam­ily” of appli­ances like a stereo system.
  • Use “split” power strips. These allow some elec­tron­ics to be kept on while allow­ing oth­ers to be turned on and off eas­ily. For exam­ple, you need your DVR to record your favorite real­ity TV show or nature pro­gram, so that HAS to stay on, but you can save energy and money by turn­ing the TV and Play Sta­tion all the way off.
  • Make sure your com­put­ers, print­ers, etc. go to “sleep” mode when they are not used for a period of time. You should prob­a­bly make this change any­way, but you can use the Kill A Watt to see how much you are sav­ing, or how much you would save by turn­ing it all the way off when not in use.
  • Com­pare the elec­tric­ity use of a refrig­er­a­tor before and after clean­ing dust from its coils.
  • Make smart pur­chases — use it to help you shop:
  1. In the mar­ket for a new com­puter? Fig­ure out what your pc and mon­i­tor use, then research how much less new ones or a lap­top would use. (Spoiler alert – lap­tops use a lot less.)
  2. Think­ing about get­ting a new appli­ance? Deter­mine how much energy yours uses, then com­pare that to new energy-efficient mod­els. Find­ing out the energy used by your old refrig­er­a­tor could help jus­tify the pur­chase of a new, energy effi­cient one. Here is a link to a refrig­er­a­tor energy cal­cu­la­tor.
  3. Another great resource is www.energystar.gov. This site can tell you the energy usage of many prod­ucts.

Green Tip

Unplug.40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they’re turned off.